The Importance of Digital Skills in the Workplace
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. And when it comes to digital technology, change is happening at lightning-fast speeds. From artificial intelligence to the Internet of things or IoT, it’s undeniable that digital technology will continue to evolve as time passes. The only thing companies and the workforce can do is keep up.
The problem is that there are still organisations and individuals who don’t invest in learning digital skills. This could prove to be harmful to business and professional growth, particularly because almost all jobs nowadays (and in the future) require such skills. Moreover, it’s impossible to say which skills are needed for which jobs; at times, there will even be overlaps.
As such, it’s a wise business and career move to take training courses that focus on developing digital skills or are digital-adjacent to continuously improve and maximise profit-earning and professional development potential.
What Are Digital Skills?
Digital skills, simply put, are skills related to digital literacy, which in turn is the capability of a person to use information technology to find, evaluate, and apply content. This means that digital skills have a wide scope, ranging from something as simple as connecting a device to the internet to something more complex such as coding.
Some of the most basic digital skills include the following:
- Device set-up, including turning on and operating a smartphone, tablet, or computer at their most basic level.
- Digital communication, which covers the use of email, messaging, and conferencing apps.
- Data sharing, which includes uploading, retrieving, and editing files through cloud-based applications.
- Research, including fact-checking and looking for specific information.
- Data storage and retrieval, using both physical and cloud-based methods.
- Digital security, including identifying security risks such as phishing, identity theft, viruses, and the like.
- Online learning, which covers the usage of computer software that helps facilitate remote training.
- Social media, including posting guidelines, rules surrounding algorithms and engagement, as well as the best platforms to use for specific goals.
One thing that might be able to help you appreciate the value of digital skills is to think of them as a language. The more you are able to master one, the better you can speak it and thus the better you can communicate with people in the industry.
Do note, as well, that many advanced digital skills like software programming are all anchored on many of the above-mentioned basics. Essentially, you cannot move forward with your digital skills development without knowing these basics.
Why Do You Need Digital Skills?
Based on research and current trends, more than 90% of jobs in the coming years will require at least one digital skill. Even the most “traditional” jobs such as agriculture have digital aspects involved these days. Thus, if you want to be marketable and future-proof your career, you should definitely invest in your digital education.
Meanwhile, some of the benefits of digital skills for businesses include increased profitability, work satisfaction, productivity, and operational efficiency. Companies that train their employees to become more proficient in digital skills also improve their customer service. On the other hand, those organisations that don’t train their people in various digital facets are likely to get left behind.
In short, learning digital skills creates a win-win-win scenario for businesses, career men and women, and consumers alike. It creates more competitive industries, develops more skilled professionals (who can command bigger salaries) and entrepreneurs, ultimately giving customers more choices for their needs.
Ways to Learn Digital Skills
Fortunately, there are many ways to learn digital skills and first among them is obviously through digital means. COVID-19 has definitively underscored the potential of online learning (or e-learning), especially when it comes to subjects such as basic digital skills.
Depending on your preference, there are various ways you can approach online learning. There are purely digital courses where you are given all the material at the start, and then take an assessment at a predetermined date based on the estimated learning progression. There are also all-digital courses that combine self-learning and an online classroom to address personal concerns.
There are also hybrid classes focused on self-learning but require one or more in-person sessions for additional training and assessments.
How to Keep Your Digital Skills Up-to-Date
Keeping your digital skills up-to-date is largely a matter of self-discipline. First, you need to keep up with the latest trends. Subscribe to news updates, follow trending topics on social media, and do your own research about digital landscape developments as well as how these will affect your industry as a whole.
As a company, you have to be willing to spend some time, money, and effort on organisation-wide training; you can also offer more advanced training opportunities as an incentive to top performers.
As an individual, you can find plenty of options online. There are several free classes that award certificates, although some paid training courses may be recognised more by potential employers. A lot of private companies and for-profit organisations, such as software developers and professional associations, also offer certification classes for their products and skills development.
The bottom line here is that whether you like it or not, digital technology is here to stay. If you want to stay relevant, it’s practically your responsibility to keep up with training and continuously develop digital skills.